This week, at the Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas, DRONELIFE had the opportunity to interview one of the industry’s most iconic figures: AgEagle CEO Brandon Torres Declet.
Brandon Torres Declet first shaped the drone industry as the entrepreneur behind Measure, a drone services and aerial photography company founded in 2014. Under his leadership, Measure was among the top 5% drone companies in the industry by revenue. In 2019, Aerodyne acquired Measure’s drone inspection services division: In 2021, publicly traded AgEagle acquired Measure’s drone platform, and Torres Declet was named CEO of AgEagle. After nearly 8 years in the drone space, Torres Declet has a unique perspective on the growth of the industry and what it takes to make enterprise customers choose drone technology.
“It’s been quite a drive,” says Torres Declet. “We have seen tremendous excitement about the technology and a lot of hype about the technology. My goal has always been to actually do it – to really use the technology at scale. Now people have really caught up, ”he says. “It’s one thing to be excited about the technology and another to actually be able to show what you can do.”
Seeing drone technology at work is a focus for Torres Declet: speaking to clients and understanding the work. “One of my favorite stories is being out and about inspecting a wind turbine farm in Waco, TX in 110-degree weather. Seeing a drone at work in the field is very different from seeing the technology on the exhibition grounds. “
This commitment to understanding the use of drones in the field shapes the strategy of AgEagle: To offer a complete solution that is flexible enough to work in a large number of industries and applications and can be seamlessly integrated into existing work processes.
The flexible full-stack solution
“Our customers are really looking for the full-stack solution – it’s difficult to buy things in pieces to build a successful drone program,” says Torres Declet.
However, Torres Declet sees flexibility as key to scaling the business and serving a wide variety of industries. “Software is at the core of making technology valuable, because that’s how you use the data,” says Torres Declet. “There are other companies that are trying to go full-stack: but our perspective at AgEagle is that we have to be flexible.”
In addition to the agricultural sector that AgEagle started with, the company offers solutions for inspections, drone delivery, security and more – industries that can have different requirements for aircraft, sensors or software.
“We have already brought two great companies together: Measure and MicaSense. Sensors and software are very important. For the future of AgEagle, you will see more features, an intuitive and easy-to-use platform that puts design first, and you will see more integrations: integrations like SAP and ERP systems, Pix4D and more. ”
“At AgEagle, we target a wide variety of industries, and you need to have enough flexibility in your stack to deliver what your customers are really looking for. If you’re completely tied to just one airframe or just one software stack, this is a very tight lane. “
“The term ‘horizontal integration’ reflects exactly what we are trying to do. Our software platform is everything from fleet management to data processing. We decided to go more horizontally than into a niche: Ultimately, drone technology spans multiple industries and multiple applications. “
“Ultimately, people are looking for something very specific. You have to talk to people and find out exactly what they are looking for … For us at AgEagle, the future will be flexible. “
The key to adding value to drone programs
According to Torres Declet, drone technology is becoming increasingly valuable to enterprise customers as customers and vendors figure out how to better integrate drones into existing workflows. “The technology has gotten better: gut feeling, it’s a flying camera,” he says. “But now customers have figured out how they can extract value from the technology and fit it into their existing processes.”
“Customers already have an existing process, and we don’t want to tell them that they need a completely new process. They already have a way to understand their assets – we just offer them one tool to do better. We fit into an existing process. “
“If we as an industry think more about how we use the technology, we will be more successful,” says Torres Declet. “Helping customers understand the value of drone technology within their own processes has brought us to a point where we feel like we’re making progress.”
Are regulations holding back the drone industry?
Not really, says Torres Declet. He started Measure long before Part 107, when any commercial use of drones required an exemption from Section 333. “You have to be able to demonstrate the effectiveness of the technology and make money in any regulatory environment,” he says.
While involved in regulation development, Torres Declet sees no reason for the drone industry or its customers to wait for drone integration. “We can do a lot today, and companies like AgEagle need to tell their customers that we can add value today.”
“I don’t understand what people are waiting for,” he says. “There is no magic wand. You need to understand and work with the regulations, demonstrate value and make money in any regulatory environment. “
That entrepreneurial mindset is part of the make-up of the AgEagle CEO – but Torres Declet says running a large publicly traded company has advantages over building a startup.
“To be at the top of a listed company is different from running a private one,” he says. “The resources we can use for our customers are exciting: the research and development that we can do, the new sensors that we will deliver, the new integrations that make it easy for our customers to really do something with them do our data. “
“From a resource point of view, it’s fundamentally a different game. It is really fun.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional marketplace for drone services, and a passionate observer of the emerging drone industry and regulatory environment for drones. Author of over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space, Miriam is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam graduated from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years experience in high-tech sales and marketing for emerging technologies.
For advice or writing in the drone industry, email Miriam.
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